Celebs Who Lost It In TV Interviews

One of the biggest stops for celebrities who are promoting a new project is the talk show circuit. Whether late night or daytime, a celebrity interview brings in big numbers, which is good for the show, and informs all of those viewers about the celebrity's latest work. It's win-win-win. The network is happy, the studio is happy, the people tuning in are happy.

Sometimes, though, interviews with famous people go horribly off the rails. But these off-script interviews have a certain appeal, like a car wreck you can't look away from. People love celebrity meltdowns, and when it happens in a situation that's usually tightly controlled, it's all the more fascinating.

Even famous people have bad days. They're just like the rest of us! Everyone just wants to do their jobs and get on with their lives. Real life doesn't work that way, though. Sometimes you just get fed up. Celebrities have too, but they've done it on camera.

Tom Cruise debates psychiatry on The Today Show

Tom Cruise has a natural charm, it's why he's a famous actor. He looks attractive and can turn on the schmooze any time he wants. But when talking about his love life or his religion, Scientology, things can take a turn for the odd. For example, there was his infamous 2005 couch-jumping escapade on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where he loudly and excitedly proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes. His overeagerness and animated behavior led to Cruise being the butt of many jokes, which are still being made over a decade later.

But in the wake of that interview was a far more awkward one that is largely forgotten now. In an appearance on The Today Show, Cruise was interviewed by then-host Matt Lauer about his role in the 2005 Steven Spielberg adaptation of War of the Worlds. The conversation turned to psychiatry, a subject that Cruise is notoriously vocal on, and that's when things got heated, to say the least. Cruise slowly got more and more aggressive before saying the only phrase a lot of people remember from this altercation, "Matt, you're glib."

During the whole thing, Lauer clearly looks uncomfortable with how the interview is going while Cruise continues to rant about psychiatric medicine and the dangers he sees in it. Needless to say, the War of the Worlds marketing team probably had to work overtime after this one.

Kanye West has a lot to say on Ellen

No matter when you're reading this, it's likely that Kanye West has done something controversial recently. At any given moment, Kanye is just a few tweets away from making just about everyone mad. It's like a law of physics. Point being, West is no stranger to making statements that end up with a lot of people muttering and wondering what he's up to this time.

During a 2016 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, promoting a recent tour and a few other projects that he was involved in at the time, Kanye slipped into a long monologue about, well, a lot of things. How he compares himself to Steve Jobs, how he has ideas that could improve mankind, and what other people seem to think of him. It's a lot to take in, and the full, unedited interview is over 15 minutes long. Amazingly, Ellen never loses stride and keeps up with him, asking questions when possible.

In 2019, Kanye went public with his bipolar disorder diagnosis, which he's struggled with for many years. Many people have speculated that this interview occurred when West was having a manic episode, which might explain his longwindedness and jumping from subject to subject. Whether that's true or not, it's actually kind of impressive that he's able to say so much so quickly.

Bobcat Goldthwait trashes Arsenio's set

If you're under 30, you might not remember The Arsenio Hall Show, a late-night talk show famous for being a bit more off-the-cuff than other late night shows. It lasted for six seasons but was cancelled in 1994. In one of the show's final episodes, comedian Bobcat Goldthwait was interviewed, thought "interview" may not be the right word.

Bobcat was fond of Arsenio Hall, having made several appearances on the show in the past, and was apparently upset at Paramount, the show's producer, and their decision to cancel his show. Shortly after walking on stage, he pulled a can of spray paint from his jacket and sprayed "PARAMOUNT SUCKS" on the set's backdrop, threw couch cushions into the crowd, destroyed equipment, swore liberally, made libelous accusations about Jerry Seinfeld (pretty shocking statements, even today) and loudly announced that he thought Michael Jackson was guilty in his first trial for child abuse, which was still very taboo to talk about on TV.

This wasn't the first time Goldthwait had caused trouble on a talk show. In 1993, during an appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, he also tossed furniture around and ran through the studio. It wasn't the last time, either, as a few days later, he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and lit a chair on fire, which led to him being fined by the FDNY, according to People.

Mike Tyson doesn't want to discuss the past on CP24

Boxing legend, actor, and pop culture personality Mike Tyson is no stranger to talk shows and familiar with controversy. At the height of his career, Tyson was one of the most formidable fighters around, winning the heavyweight title at only 20-years-old. To put it mildly, Mike Tyson was a big deal in the 80s and 90s. 

But in 1992, Tyson was convicted on a rape charge and sentenced to six years in prison. Tyson later returned to boxing, where he was no less controversial (he infamously bit Evander Holyfield on the ear in a match). After retiring from the sport, he was caught up in a few drug and alcohol arrests, but around 2009, Tyson attempted to turn his life around, working with several charities and generally staying out of trouble.

But in a 2015 appearance on Toronto's CP24, Tyson slipped when he talked about meeting then-mayor Rob Ford, at which point host Nathan Downer pointed out that, as a convicted rapist, Tyson might actually hurt Ford's re-election campaign. Tyson calmly rebutted this, at which point his promoter took over. Things seemed to level out, but after a few moments, Tyson let Downer have it, profusely swearing at him. Downer changed the subject, which helped, but before the interview ended, Tyson, clearly still incensed, began to once again curse out Downer, who understandably ended the interview.

Mariah Carey brought ice cream to TRL

In July 2001, Mariah Carey was on top of the music world. Her first starring film, Glitter, and its soundtrack album were on the way and the first single, "Loverboy," had just been released. She was a household name and one of the biggest performers in pop. But things took a turn for the unusual when she appeared, unannounced, on MTV's Total Request Live

Host Carson Daly was just about to cut to commercial when Carey showed up. Although Carey later claimed that Daly was aware she was in the building, he was apparently not expecting her at that moment, judging from his bewildered reaction. Carey came in wearing an oversized T-shirt and pushing an ice cream cart, from which she handed frozen treats out to the audience. Carey then walked up next to Daly and took off the shirt, revealing a skimpy outfit underneath. She called the appearance "therapy" and began rapidly talking over Daly and showing off a photo of her mother. 

A few days later, Carey was hospitalized for "exhaustion" because of the incident. The Glitter album and film were delayed by three weeks (upon release, both were flops). It wasn't until 2018 when Carey opened up about the incident and revealed that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder during the hospitalization, according to People, and the appearance had been a manic episode.

Crispin Glover almost kicked Letterman in the face

Crispin Glover, most famous for playing George McFly in the original Back to the Future had a reputation throughout the 80s and 90s for being, well, a bit eccentric. He's an unusual sort of performer, and it's hard to predict what he's going to do from one film to the next. This is the setting against which Glover appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in July 1987. 

Glover was on the show to promote his latest film, River's Edge, in which he played Layne, a teenager who discovers that his friend committed a murder. It's not a comedic movie at all, and yet Glover showed up to the interview wearing a silly outfit, a long wig, and platform shoes. He then proceeded to give an awkward, stumbling interview while Letterman tried to keep things moving along.

After a few minutes of this, Glover begins to talk about how strong he is, asking Letterman to arm wrestle, and then high-kicking inches from Letterman's face. Letterman grows annoyed and walks off his own show. What Letterman and the audience didn't know was that Glover was actually in character as Rubin Farr, a character he created for a movie that wouldn't be release for four more years, Rubin and Ed. Glover returned to the show in 1990 and tried to explain, but Letterman cut him off before he could finish the story.

Oliver Reed is weirdly aggressive on Letterman

Legendary British actor Oliver Reed appeared in just under 100 movies from 1955 to 2000. Not only was he prolific, his performances were critically acclaimed. But he was just as notorious outside of the film industry as he was inside of it. Reed was long considered a troublemaker, and he was famous for his drunken exploits and feats. 

Reed had made several drunken appearances in interviews throughout his career, so much that it became expected of him to be intoxicated when he showed up, and his 1987 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman to promote the movie Castaway seems to fit that bill. After walking out, Reed immediately begins to rub Letterman the wrong way, tugging his arm while they shake hands so that Letterman is thrown off balance. Things don't get better from there.

Reed begins to speak in a gruff American accent. Letterman questions him about his history with alcohol and Reed gets perturbed. He claims that he told Letterman's researcher not to bring up his drinking. From there, Reed proceeds making up a story about being a fisherman, randomly speaking in German, insulting Letterman's intelligence, and generally acting belligerent. It's not clear if he had been drinking that night (he implies that he no longer drinks), was angry at Letterman about something, or just thought it would be fun, but it's definitely a surreal interview.

Joaquin Phoenix spaces out on Letterman

It seems that The Late Show with David Letterman might have been an unspoken lightning rod for strange celebrity interviews. In 2009, Joaquin Phoenix appeared on the show to promote his change of career, retiring from acting and announcing himself as a hip hop artist instead. He showed up in a black suit and sunglasses with a beard, a look he had been seen with in public a few times by that point.

Throughout the interview, though, Phoenix seemed stand-offish and unfriendly. His replies to Letterman were curt and often did not allow Letterman any leeway to segue to the next topic, making Letterman awkwardly trudge on through his questions. Phoenix seemed to grow angry at Letterman's jokes, at which point Letterman tried to calm him down. When the interview was wrapping up, Letterman famously quipped, "I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."

Turns out, the whole thing was a setup for a mostly forgotten mockumentary, for which Phoenix stayed in character for two years. He came back on the show a year and a half later to explain himself and sorta-kinda apologize for his behavior. Things took another awkward turn when Letterman began needling him about whether or not Phoenix owned him any money for including the original interview in the film. Maybe it was all in good fun, but Letterman seemed to enjoy watching Phoenix squirm.

Andy Kaufman has a fight on Letterman

Perhaps the most legendary off-the-rails celebrity interview ever, Andy Kaufman and Jerry "The King" Lawler appeared together on The Tonight Show with David Letterman in 1982. Kaufman had been wrestling female athletes for a time as part of one of his patented long-running hoaxes. The "wrestlers" were usually performance artists that he hired and, naturally, he always "won." Eventually, Kaufman came into contact with Lawler and began taunting him with a series of wrestling promos that portrayed wrestling fans from Memphis, Lawler's hometown, as unwashed and uneducated.

Eventually, Lawler and Kaufman scheduled a match together, Kaufman's first against a male opponent. Lawler won easily and seemingly injured Kaufman's neck with a piledriver. Kaufman was still wearing a neck brace, months later, during the Letterman appearance. Kaufman and Lawler bickered about the match, with Kaufman demanding an apology, until Lawler hopped up and slapped Kaufman out of his chair, at which point Letterman cut to commercial.

After the break, Kaufman began shouting obscenities at Lawler. At one point, Kaufman even apologizes for his profanity, but then hilariously starts swearing at Lawler again seconds later. He then throws coffee in Lawler's face and Lawler chases him offstage. At the time, no one, not even Letterman, was sure if what was happening was real or not. It wasn't until over 10 years later that it was finally revealed to all be a hoax perpetrated by Kaufman.

Madonna curses up a storm on Letterman

Madonna had a reputation in the 80s and 90s for being a free spirit, to put it gently. She had a history of being provocative and pushing the boundaries of what the public considered tasteful, to both cheers and boos from the people at home. This is the backdrop against which she appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in 1994. It wasn't her first appearance on the show, but she certainly made it memorable. 

David Letterman had a habit at the time of making fun of Madonna's love life, which heavily mocked her perceived promiscuity. So, immediately after walking on stage, Madonna threw Letterman off by asking why he was obsessed with her romantic life. Letterman was taken aback, but rolled with it.

Throughout the over 20 minute long interview, Madonna swore nonstop, gave Letterman a pair of her underwear, made numerous double entendres, refused to leave the stage, and generally made the audience and Dave very uncomfortable. It wasn't just the people in the studio, either, as the appearance caused a lot of controversy in the media the following day. For her part, Madonna later claimed that she had been trying to make a point on censorship and how violence was acceptable on TV, but cursing was not. Frankly, the interview wouldn't be nearly so remarkable today, so maybe she was right in the end.

Casey Affleck has an awkward moment on Colbert

Even after David Letterman left The Late Show and Stephen Colbert took over, the program still attracted the strangest celebrity interviews like a magnet. In 2016, actor Casey Affleck stopped by the show to promote his latest film, Triple 9. Immediately, things started out awkward. Colbert jokingly complimented Affleck, wearing a rumpled, untucked shirt, for dressing up. Affleck seemed not to care for this remark, but Colbert kept going. Affleck stopped him briefly and asked if they could talk about something else, but Colbert wanted to finish his joke, calling Affleck a "street-corner Jesus."

Colbert then joked that Affleck might want to fight him after the show, to which Affleck asked, "Do you want to fight me?" Colbert said no, and the interview continued with some odd banter about the mug of water on the desk. Affleck still seemed to be a bit irritated after, but things did calm down. Amazingly, the rest of the interview proceeds as normal.

The interview has shades of Joaquin Phoenix's 2009 interview with David Letterman, which was a part of the mockumentary I'm Still Here. Affleck directed that film, so comparisons were naturally made between the two appearances. It's not clear if Affleck started out doing a bit, but dropped it midway or if he really was getting annoyed by Colbert's jokes, but either way, the result is pretty cringeworthy to watch.

Nicolas Cage flips out on Wogan

The typical talk show entrance is to walk out, give a few friendly waves and smiles to the audience, shake hands with the host, and have a nice chat about whatever you're working on. Nicolas Cage's 1992 appearance on British talk show Wogan to promote his role in Wild at Heart is not the typical entrance. On his way to his seat, he performs somersaults, high-kicks, and even takes a wad of cash from his pocket and throws bills into the crowd. 

Things get even stranger when, apropos of nothing, Cage removes his jacket, then takes off his t-shirt and hands it to Wogan. Wogan seems less than thrilled about this, but continues on. Cage then proceeds to tell a fishy-sounding story about how, when he was a kid, he dressed up in boots and a leather jacket and posed as his own cousin, telling his bullies not to mess with the young Cage. It sounds far-fetched, to say the least, but at this point, it's one of the least weird things that has occurred.

There are a number of theories about what happened here. Jet lag has been one suggestion, and it's possible that he was just very excited about being on the show and had some sort of adrenaline rush. But the most common speculation is that Cage was on ... something. What that something was is anyone's guess.